In 1985 my dad forced me to get a Mac 512K. Yes, forced. Ten years earlier I took a college course: Computing & Data Processing. It seemed that learning about computing was the way of the future and might be one of the more valuable classes to be taken at that time. After two weeks of nothing but introduction to the punch card (remember those?), I dropped the class. If this was computing, it wasn’t for me.
In 1985 my formal writing tools, beyond pen and graph paper, were a manual Olivetti typewriter and the occasional use of an IBM Selectric on which I could make mistakes faster. My dad then insisted I needed a computer for my small business and made me take his old Mac 512K when he bought his new Mac.
Richard Nielsen, like Steve Jobs, was ahead of his time. He had already owned several versions of the Apple || computers when the Macintosh came out and he had to have one. He and my Mom went to the first MacWorld conventions in San Francisco. My dad was one of the customers that Steve Jobs built the Mac for. I was too, but didn’t yet realize it.
The Mac 512K sat ready on the desk at my small business. It looked cool. I turned it on and marveled at the GUI, but had no clue what to do with it. The connected ImageWriter 2 dot matrix printer, with the giant box of computer paper fed through it, sat there ready and waiting. I was still typing letters on my manual typewriter even though my dad and brother tried to show me how easy it was to just do it on the Mac. At the end of a long business letter I made another typo. Right at the end, of course! I cursed the typewriter and lamented my wasted time typing it out again only to make another likely mistake.
Then it hit me, on the computer you can – correct any mistakes BEFORE printing! I started up the Mac, opened MacWrite, floppy disk whirring away, wrote the letter and printed it. I cannot remember using a typewriter for business correspondence ever again. Now I was a Mac user too.
Years later with much help from my brother, dad, fellow Mac users and the great folks I met at the now defunct MacCentral forums I became my own Mac wizard. The legendary ease of use of the Mac made this possible. That first baby Mac step led to using Photoshop as my very own digital darkroom for my photography, to web design, my main source for music new and old – procuring, archiving and listening, my main source of news, information, knowledge, arts & graphics delivery. As the capabilities and power of the Mac grew, I was able to grow with it.
Indeed, to quote Steve Jobs:
“That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”
I’m sure it is quite likely that without my Mac experience beginning in 1985 I would have eventually got a computer like everybody else. What may not have been so obvious is how much Steve Jobs influenced other operating systems.
It should be apparent to anyone paying attention how much we owe to Steve Jobs for influencing how we interface with technology today. With so many hours a day spent using my bicycle for our minds I really appreciate the quality of our technology and hope it will continue to grow in the future.